“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in”
Since television arrived in Ireland in the early 1960’s a sixty-second clip has featured daily at 6.00pm. The brief feature (link below) is the slow tolling of a bell with images of people stopping work, taking a moment to be still, to ponder, to pray as the bell tolls the distinctive ring-rhythm of the Angelus.
Eighteen months ago as voters exited the booths at the 2018 Irish election, an exit poll was taken asking if the daily 6.00pm broadcast of the “Angelus Bells” should continue on the national broadcasting network RTE.
The poll result was overwhelming support for this daily custom.
This Angelus bell has for centuries reminded Christians around the world to pause in schools and workplaces, in farm fields and in homes to pray remembering the Incarnation: God in Jesus is with us.
One viewer commented at the time of the Ireland poll: “To the person of faith, it’s a moment of grace; to the person without faith, it’s a moment of peace. What’s not to like?”
The tradition of church bells ringing no longer all that common. The distinctive Angelus ring is almost never heard and the sound of the Sunday church bell seems like a quaint nostalgia.
During these lockdown weeks the few remaining church bells have been silenced as churches wait with closed doors. Perhaps the shift to Level 3 next week, while not opening churches, might permit a bell-ringer to enter?
Ring the bells that still can ring!
I’m reminded of an interview with Leonard Cohen a few years ago. He was asked about how crises in life often prompt new and necessary life-changes. The interviewer was especially interested in Cohen’s calm acceptance of the news that his former manager had stolen all of his money. The interviewer questioned him: “Does life-change have to be forced?” Cohen replied: “I think so… It is clear that it is only catastrophe that encourages people to make a change…” (full interview at this link)
I don’t agree completely with Cohen since often significant change can happen as a result of gentle discernment. But I take his point – unwelcome catastrophe does provide a great opportunity for reassessment of priorities.
Many commentators these days are reflecting that the coronavirus is the kind of catastrophe that provides an opportunity for change.
You’ll be getting sick of my quotes from the homily given for the pope on Good Friday, but permit me one more. Fr. Cantalamessa suggests “It took merely the smallest and most formless element of nature, a virus, to remind us that we are mortal, that military power and technology are not sufficient to save us”
I get the sense watching the Irish TV Angelus clip (at this link) that something as small as the ringing of a bell may have been enough to give people a lift from the anxieties and burdens of their days at their desks, factories, fields and homes.
Wouldn’t it be great if the bells that still can ring, do ring!
Let’s start a movement: 12 noon and 6.00pm any church bells that can ring, do ring, perhaps using the simple God-is-with-us ring of the Angelus Bell – the traditional distinctive toll pattern: 1.2.3. – 1.2.3. – 1.2.3. – 188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.9.
I’m hoping that this daily bell-ringing suggestion goes viral, a new idea, a hope-filled virus providing an audible ring of hope in our neighbourhoods.
“To the person of faith, it’s a moment of grace;
to the person without faith, it’s a moment of peace.
What’s not to like?”
- 12 minute Interview with Leonard Cohen at this link.
- You might like to download an Angelus App complete with ringing bells. The one I use is at this link: Angelus App.
- The daily Angelus on Irish TV is at this link.
- I have used the image of the bell tower on the Lectio Divina links below. If you take a cell phone picture of a bell tower near where you live and send to me I’ll use your images on these pages. Just email the pic with name of church and town – email@example.com
LECTIO DIVINA FOR THURSDAY OF EASTER WEEK II (23 April 2020)
Two options – the second longer form includes two readings of the gospel passage and longer periods of silence.
Thursday Easter Week II (15 minutes)
Thursday Easter Week II (25 minutes)